The Key to the Governess’s Heart (Preview)

Chapter One

“All right, my darlings.  It looks as though our time has come to an end.  Your sister and I must be getting ready now,” Beatrice said to her charges, her face alight with excitement.

“No, please, Miss Cloud!  We want to go with you or you cannot go at all,” Cecile complained, pushing out her significant pout.

“Yes, please, Miss Cloud.  Do not leave us to be forced to go to bed and not enjoy ourselves.  We are very nearly old enough,” Mary added.

“Ha!  You consider eleven and eight old enough to attend a party?” Beatrice asked, amused.

“Please?” Mary begged, clearly aware that her efforts were hopeless.

“I am sorry, my little darlings, but you shall have your day.  In fact, when you are older, you shall experience the joy of many parties, balls, and gatherings,” Beatrice.

“Even if I become a governess like you?” Cecile asked.

Beatrice’s smile faltered for only a moment.  She knew better than to take the child’s curiosity as a personal insult.  Still, there was no questioning the fortune of working for such a kind, loving family.

“Well, Cecile, you are never going to be a governess.  You must remember that you are a grand lady who shall be married off to a handsome man one day.  Possibly a duke.  But, you are right.  The majority of governesses are not so blessed as I.  It is by the grace of your mother and father that I am treated with such dignity,” Beatrice explained.

Cecile seemed to be trying to understand and Mary, the elder of the two, rested a hand upon her sister’s shoulder.

“Come on, let’s go to our room.  She will never let us have any fun,” Mary grumbled.

Beatrice held back her laughter until the girls were with their nurse, but from there she quickly made her way to Isla’s room, knocking on the door in quiet but rapid movements.

“Come in!” Isla called.

Beatrice entered and hurried to her friend’s side.

“My goodness, Lady Seton, you are quite the vision!” Beatrice exclaimed.

“And you, dear Beatrice, are late.  Did my sisters keep you too long?” Isla asked.

“Yes, but I expected as much.  I apologise for my tardiness.  You look beautiful, though.  For myself, I am not sure if I ought to wear the grey or the peach,” Beatrice said.

“You must wear the peach.  Remember, you are not a governess tonight.  Go, quickly, and get your gown.  Margaret should be here any moment to help me dress and I’m sure that she would be happy to help you as well,” Isla said.

Beatrice did as she was told and, after helping Isla, the maid also assisted with helping Beatrice.

“Thank you, Margaret,” she said, feeling somewhat guilty that the other staff of the house were not afforded the same opportunities as she was.

The home of Lord Seton, Earl of Dutton, was a wonderful place to work.  Beatrice had heard so many dreadful stories of grand estates with awful lords and ladies.  Instead, she had found a slightly elevated status as a governess and, moreover, she had found a dear friend in the eldest daughter, Isla Seton.

For three years, Beatrice had been a governess to the youngest two while she and Isla had grown close.  Lord and Lady Seton had hardly minded, thinking it a miracle that their reserved daughter had found a kindred spirit.

“Are you ready for the grand evening?” Beatrice asked, hinting, as she ran a brush through her thick, brown hair.

“Oh, I don’t know.  How can one prepare themselves for something like this, Beatrice?  I am meant to be meeting my future husband.  I know nothing at all about the Earl of Willoughby.  What if we do not like one another?” Isla asked.

“I am certain that you shall.  Your father said that he is a very good man, did he not?” Beatrice asked.

“Yes, but what else is my father going to say?  He could hardly tell me that the earl is a dreadful prig of a man,” Isla said.

Beatrice laughed, but she could not fault Isla for the concern.

“I hope that you find him handsome at the very least,” Beatrice said, thinking that it would be a small mercy in the face of the usual arrogance of these men.

“Yes, I hope so.  From what I have heard, he has blonde hair and blue eyes.  My father said that he is quite tall.  I know nothing else,” Isla said.

“Well, that is a fair enough description.  And, of course, who does not like a tall gentleman?” Beatrice asked. 

“Yes, I suppose,” Isla replied, her voice nearly shaking with anxiety.

“Oh, dear Isla, don’t be so worried.  Everything is going to be wonderful.  You and the earl are going to be such a lovely match.  I have no doubt of it,” Beatrice said.

“Do you really think so?” her friend asked.

“I am sure of it,” Beatrice replied.

“It is difficult to think of meeting the man that I am to spend my life with.  Knowing so little about him frightens me, but I trust that my mother and father have made the right choice,” Isla said.

“I am sure that they have.  And remember, I shall be there beside you the whole evening,” Beatrice said.

“That you shall.  And I could not be more grateful for it,” Isla told her.

“Well, it is I who should be grateful.  I am most fortunate for being afforded the opportunity to attend a party such as this.  You know as well as I do that it is completely unprecedented that someone in my station should be allowed to accompany you,” Beatrice acknowledged.

“My father likes you and I begged him,” Isla said with a shrug, as though it was nothing at all.

But for Beatrice, it was remarkable.  Dressing in lavish clothing, holding her head up high and entertaining guests from all manner of societal rank, it was sure to be a grand evening.

Still, despite the fact that Beatrice was able to attend the gathering, she recognised that it hardly meant having similar opportunities for matchmaking and friendship as Isla.  She would never find some grand and noble earl for a husband.

Not that she cared for a title, but Beatrice wished that she could find a lovely man with whom she could spend her life.  Someone with a kind heart, someone who loved others, and who valued human connection.

When she considered the men that she had met in her life, not one was a possible match.  As difficult as that was to accept she had learned to look past it and have hope that, one day, she might meet a man who would content her.

“All right, now you must put these in your hair,” Isla said, holding out little pins with pearls at the tips.

“Isla, they are lovely!  Should you not be the one to wear them?” Beatrice asked.

“No, I am more than happy to see them on you.  I’m certain that you will do them justice,” Isla said, pulling one of her own stray brown hairs from a pin.

Beatrice took them in her hands, admiring the delicate sheen of the pearls.

“Here we are,” Isla said, straightening Beatrice’s head and tugging on little sections of hair.

One by one, she took the pins from Beatrice so that she could gently place them in her hair.  By the end, Beatrice was astounded by how lovely they looked.

“Thank you so much.  I feel like royalty,” Beatrice said with a giggle.

“You certainly look the part.  Anyway, we must finish getting ready so that we can go down and prepare to entertain the early guests,” Isla said.

“Yes, of course.  Do you think they will notice that I am just a lowly governess?”  she asked, suddenly anxious to be among so many noblemen and women.

“Hardly.  And even if my father tells them, no one is going to give it a second thought.  You are our governess and you are my friend.  Whatever assumptions they make beyond that, it matters not a jot to me,” Isla said.

Although Beatrice appreciated the sentiment, she could not imagine that it would be so easy.  Society had stricter rules than that, a fact that she couldn’t deny.  Now, as Beatrice tried to consider her other options, she had begun to realise that she didn’t have the same choices in life as her friend.

It was something she simply had to accept.

“Anyway, are you ready?” Isla asked.

Beatrice nodded, eager and ready for whatever the evening might bring.

“Excellent.  In that case, we ought to go downstairs.  The guests shall be arriving at any moment and I don’t want to miss my handsome new suitor,” Isla said, laughing nervously.

Beatrice followed her, a lump in her throat.  Certainly, she had no reason to be as anxious as Isla.  After all, it was not as though she was on her way to meet the man that she would marry. 

Nevertheless, she was on her way to entertain an evening with those who were considered her superiors.  She desperately hoped that she might fit in, that she would manage to carry on a conversation well, that she would—for just one night—be someone other than a governess.

By the time they reached the hall where the other guests were beginning to gather, Beatrice was feeling braver.  Despite having nothing to motivate her  and nothing to prevent her anxieties, she mustered her strength of will and decided that she would not be beaten by the fears that threatened to consume her.

“Now, you must enjoy yourself.  More than likely I shall be overwhelmed and come to find you, but I know that my father will want me speaking with guests for the majority of the night.  There are supposed to be nearly eighty men and women coming, can you believe it?” Isla asked.

Hearing that, Beatrice was overcome once more by nerves.  If it had been a ball, eighty people would hardly mean anything.  But a gathering like this one?  There would be no dancing, no firm distractions.

It was an evening with little finger foods, plenty of wine and brandy, and the great art-form of conversation.

Isla was the only noblewoman with whom Beatrice was accustomed to engaging in conversation of any depth. 

Being an intelligent, learned woman, Beatrice would not be concerned if conversations strayed to the lives of master artists—only that she might have to confess to never having seen their work.  She could talk about composers—but she had never been to a concert.  She could speak eloquently on politics—but she had no family connections.

If any of these little details were brought to light, she felt that she would be exposed.  Even if there was no intention of hiding her identity as a governess, Beatrice didn’t mind if people remained unaware of the fact.

However, the time came when the first guests were announced.  Three couples had arrived at once, and four more immediately followed.  Soon, it felt like dozens of gowns were surrounding Beatrice and she realised that this was truly going to be a night to remember.

“Be friendly, be polite, and most importantly, be at ease,” Isla said.

“Were you not the one feeling so anxious just moments ago?” Beatrice asked.

“I am about to meet my future husband; of course I am anxious,” Isla said, searching the room with her gaze.

Beatrice watched as her friend’s eyes landed upon a tall, blonde fellow.  He was certainly handsome.  Lean and youthful, he appeared to be searching the room as well.

“Oh, goodness,” Isla said, excitement playing across her lips.

“I believe you ought to go to him, don’t you think?” Beatrice asked.

“Yes, I think I must.  He is quite handsome, don’t you think?” Isla asked.

“Very much so.  Now it is time that you learn whether or not his personality matches his appearance,” Beatrice said.

With that, Isla took a deep breath and stepped away as Beatrice leaned against the wall, suddenly aware of how alone she was.

 

Chapter Two

Lord Peter Hawthorn, Earl of Willoughby, and his dear friend Andrew Beckridge, the Baron of Ryle, had arrived at a good time.  There were certainly a number of people around, but it was not overly crowded and he wasn’t worried about being unable to find Lord Seton or his daughter.

“I wish to find a refreshment.  Would you care to join me?” Andrew asked, blue eyes shining with excitement.

Peter laughed.

“As much as I would love to indulge in a bit of brandy, I should probably be looking for Lord Seton and my future bride,” he said.

“Yes, I suppose.  And you said that she is quite beautiful?  How are you meant to find a beauty in here?  There are so many lovely women,” Andrew said.

“Indeed there are, but I am looking for the lady of the house.  She has brown hair and a lovely, youthful face.  I don’t know much more than that, but most of the women that I see are older,” Peter said.

“Oh, well, if you cannot find her, you will just have to find her father and ask him,” Andrew said.

“Yes, precisely.  Anyway, go and enjoy your refreshments,” Peter said.

Andrew looked only too eager as he marched off toward the table.

Peter, meanwhile, greeted a few of the men that he knew as he looked around the room.  Finally, there she was.

A stunning young lady, instructing a maid where she was meant to take some of the drinks, stood very near the back wall.

“Yes, I believe they are meant to go on the main table.  I saw that some of the glasses were empty, so if he told you to bring more I assume he wanted it replenished,” the young woman said.

Isla Seton.  She really was rather stunning.

She looked up at him, those eyes more beautiful than he could have imagined.  Heavily lidded, they gave her a dreamy look.  Her pout was exquisite and the button nose above her lips was delicate in her face.  Relief washed over him that he found his future bride absolutely stunning.

He had never imagined that she would be this lovely.  He only hoped that her behaviour was equally stunning.

“Good evening,” Peter greeted.

Her face lit up at his approach and he imagined she had probably heard a description of him just as he had of her.

“Good evening, My Lord,” she said, curtseying.  There was something about her demeanor that showed her nerves, but she held herself quite well.

“It is quite a nice party, I can see.  Am I late?” he asked.

“Certainly not.  It would not be fashionable to arrive early, would it?” she asked, grinning.

“No, I suppose not.  But the estate is lovely.  Truly,” Peter said.

“Yes, it is.  Some days I can hardly believe I get to wake up here,” she said.

“I am sure.  So, what is on the order of the evening?” Peter asked.

“What is usually?” she replied.  “I am sure that there will be much feasting, a good deal of drinking, some gentleman shall say something provocative, a debate shall ensue and then we shall all settle into fits of laughter.”

Peter laughed heartily.  She certainly had made a good assumption.

“Yes, that is probably the case.  And I imagine that Lord Vermore shall be the one who starts it all,” Peter said.

It was evident that she didn’t know who he was speaking about.  And why should she?  Not all young women knew their father’s friends. 

“Oh, my apologies.  I meant that fellow over there,” he said, eyeing the large man with the red nose and an empty glass.  As if on cue, Lord Vermore was reaching for another.

“Yes, indeed, I can definitely see that as a possibility.  He certainly appears to be the sort who might indulge a little bit too much with his beverages,” she remarked.

“Well, nothing like my own father did in the past.  He was not a drunkard by any means,” Peter was quick to clarify, lest Lady Isla should think that he came from a family with a poor manner and bad reputation.

“Well, that is good,” she said, smiling.

“Yes, but he did enjoy a party.  Once, when I was only just beginning to join him at a variety of social engagements, he told one gentleman that it was shocking how often the man’s wife wore pasted jewels.  He was livid!  But my father had heard my mother comment on it and, in his state of mind, decided that it was an appropriate remark to make in public,” Peter said, laughing.

Lady Isla laughed as well, giggling in a sweet way.  It made her lovely nose crinkle and Peter was shocked that things were going so well.

 

They had only had a few minutes together and there was no way to say that things were going to continue to go well, but at least for the moment it appeared that they were getting along.  That much made Peter very happy.

“And what about you?  Do your mother and father ever get into any scrapes?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing like that.  I think they work too hard to indulge themselves in that way,” Lady Isla said.

It sounded about right.  After all, Lord Seton was a very diligent man and he was well-known for his efforts.  There was hardly a time that went by when he wasn’t doing something or striving toward something new and better.

“Well, that is probably for the best.  I am sure that your father would be glad to know that he has such a reputation,” Peter said.

“Yes, he has worked hard for it,” she replied.  “Of course, that doesn’t mean that I never managed to do anything silly.”

“Oh?  You must tell me.  What sort of misdemeanours did you get yourself into?” he asked, enthralled and looking forward to her story.

“Well, there was the time that I was at my aunt’s home, and I accidentally broke into a bottle of sherry.  Mind you, I had no idea what it was.  I thought that it was simply some lovely cordial,” she said.

“Oh, dear!  I cannot imagine what must have come of that,” Peter said, already imaging what hilarity had ensued.

“Well, I was eight years of age, so even when the taste was not quite what I expected I was rather curious.  My father, however, was terribly angry at me until my aunt confessed that it had been her fault for not watching me more closely,” Lady Isla said.

“That was kind of her to take the responsibility,” he said.

“Indeed, it was.  But it hardly changes the fact that I ought to have stopped drinking it anyway.  My mother and father always told me that water and tea were the only things I should consume in great amounts.  That even milk was precious,” she said.

Peter was impressed.  He had never thought of someone as wealthy as Lord Seton instilling an appreciation for cost in their daughter.  It was nice to know that she was not someone who believed in indulging everything.

“Well, that is very good.  I am glad to know that you have a care for things like that,” Peter said.

“Of course, I must.  It would be wrong to waste things.  So, although my aunt was so kind, I did know better.  It was just that I knew better on a wholly other matter,” Lady Isla said.

Peter found himself eyeing her for a moment longer than he probably should have.  Lady Isla was already a surprise to him.  From her beauty to her humour to the way she seemed to respect the life that she had, he was relieved to see that they were actually compatible in many ways.

He looked around the room for a moment and saw Andrew speaking with another lovely young woman.  It was clear that the two were engaged in quite a nice conversation and he could hardly believe their luck in that they had both managed to enjoy themselves that evening.

They had both ended up speaking with young women who had kept their interest.

“I must say, I did not expect to have such a lovely conversation upon arriving.  I am rather enjoying getting to know you,” Peter said.

Lady Isla looked away, bashfully.  Her heavy eyes cast down for just a moment before looking back up at him.

“Thank you, My Lord.  You are most kind,” she said.

“It is only a shame that this is not a ball.  I would have loved to offer you a dance,” he said.

“That would have been wonderful.  I do love to dance,” she said.

“And I have no doubt that you are rather accomplished and graceful,” he said, knowing what sort of lessons young women were made to have.

But, instead of confirming this, Lady Isla only laughed.

“Oh, I wish that I could say that you are right, but I fear that I am not at all an accomplished dancer.  I have not the rhythm for it.  I enjoy it a great deal, but I am not skilled,” she confessed.

“Well, that hardly matters.  I’m certain that you are so skilled in other areas that it more than makes up for the matter,” Peter said.  “And, in truth, I am rather stiff when I dance.  I am adequate, but not graceful.”

Being so tall and broad, Peter did not have the ease of movement that Andrew had.  Andrew was also quite tall, but he was so much leaner that his body seemed to sway easily with the movements of the dance.

But this had never bothered Peter.  He did his best and that was all that mattered.  Moreover, it was somewhat of a relief that Lady Isla was not going to prove him a klutz.  If she was also not a spectacular dancer, he had nothing to fear.

“In that case, I believe we would be ideal partners.  There are far too many men and women out there who dance for the sake of image, who show off their gracefulness as they glide across the room.  But two people who dance purely for the joy of it?  That is something of its own,” she said.

“My goodness.  I confess upon finding that you have wit in equal measure to match your beauty and humour; I find myself nearly out of my depth!” Peter said.  “Aside from dancing, is there any other area that is left unaccomplished?”

She laughed in response to his teasing and Peter was overwhelmed by her.  Lady Isla was far from a disappointment.

“I believe there are plenty of aspects where I leave much to be desired.  Nevertheless, I enjoy my life and I trust that others must be bold enough to enjoy their own, despite failures such as these,” she said.

“Well, that is inspiring.  Thank you for being such a bright spark in this evening.  I honestly didn’t expect it,” Peter said.

“Nor did I…” she said, giving that shy glance once more.

“Well, if we are not to dance, what would you say to a game of cards?” Peter asked, looking at one of the many card tables.  There were only a few which remained empty.  He figured he could always invite Andrew—and the young woman that he was speaking to—to join them if Lady Isla was uncomfortable with it being just the two of them.

“I fear that I do not know how to play.  Would you teach me?” she asked.

“I would be delighted,” Peter said.

It was a surprise that she didn’t know how to play, but it meant that it was better for the two of them to sit alone, without others.  He would be able to continue getting to know her as they played.

It was the loveliest evening Peter thought he had ever enjoyed in society.

And he was thrilled that this was the woman he would get to marry.


“The Key to the Governess’s Heart” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Being totally unaware of what the future holds, Beatrice Cloud is delighted to be invited to her employer’s dinner party. Particularly since his daughter, and Beatrice’s dearest friend, is meant to be meeting her betrothed that fateful evening. Beatrice is more than excited for her friend, but her life is about to turn upside down when her eyes meet the most handsome Lord she’s ever seen. The only problem is that the man she felt connected to for the very first time is her best friend’s husband-to-be. Feeling ashamed and disgraced by a situation she never intended to be a part of, will she find the strength to fight her feelings?

Lord Peter Hawthorn, the Earl of Willoughby, is nervous but excited to meet the woman he is about to marry. As they start talking, he instantly finds himself attracted to the beautiful, kind, and interesting young Lady. But little did he know that the woman he is falling for is his future wife’s governess. They say true love knows no bounds, but will Peter dare to defy cruel society, even if that means he will break another heart? How far is he willing to go for a chance at true love?

Beatrice and Peter soon find themselves caught up in the denial of their affections, while complications of their classes and Lord Seton’s adamant will make matters even worse. Will this match made in heaven survive against all odds? Or will commitment and society keep them apart forever?

“The Key to the Governess’s Heart” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

19 thoughts on “The Key to the Governess’s Heart (Preview)”

  1. I love books that grab me from the very first. Can’t wait to read the full story. Thank you for the privilege of reading this preview .

  2. Can not wait to read the next section of the book. Loved it so far. Thank you for thinking of all of us so that we can find some enjoyment.

  3. VIRGINIA
    July 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    I look forward to reading the rest of the story. I have a great imagination and see several possibilities . I look forward to what twist and turns it will go through and hope it will leave each of them happy and surprised.

  4. Has my attention already. Cannot wait until its available. Looking forward to the twists and turns of the story

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